/ 29 January 2008

‘Don’t blame minister for home affairs mess’

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has done her best to try to bring order and stability into the chaotic Home Affairs Department, MPs heard on Tuesday.

”The political responsibilities have been exercised boldly, and we are working towards an unqualified audit,” Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told the National Assembly’s home affairs committee.

Committee chairperson Patrick Chauke earlier said: ”For the past few years there had been this chaos we had to deal with in the department. We are sick and tired of having to deal with the same problems time and again.”

Gigaba, who was presenting the department’s 2006/07 annual report to the committee, cited the task team and the turnaround experts brought in by Mapisa-Nqakula as some of the interventions she has made to improve the situation.

Chauke said Gigaba and Mapisa-Nqakula should take more responsibility and account to the committee on many of the department’s weaknesses. He said it is unacceptable that the department has been regularly getting qualified audits from the Auditor General.

Gigaba and Mapisa-Nqakula should brief the committee on what they have done to prevent poor financial management at the department, he said.

Gigaba said it would be incorrect to expect the department’s political leadership to interfere directly with its management, as that is the responsibility of the director general.

He said current Home Affairs Director General Mavuso Msimang is taking care of many of the managerial issues, including the suspension of chief financial officer Pat Kambule on charges of financial mismanagement.

The political leadership has to allow the disciplinary process to reach its conclusion and ”not act like inexperienced hotheads”.

Gigaba said he and Mapisa-Nqakula are also concerned about the department’s failure to deliver. The department is currently introducing new systems and qualified people are being hired, he added.

”We have also realised that the absence of financial skills and systems had made it easier for corruption to take place,” he said.

Briefing the media earlier on Tuesday, Msimang said it is unfair for people to blame him for the current problems in the department, as he has been in the job for less than a year.

He said he is confident that the department will not get another negative audit in the 2007/08 financial year. — Sapa